Category Archives: Australia

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Fremantle in West Australia Allows Residents Trade Solar Power Using Power Ledger

Residents in Western Australia’s (WA) historical coastal port of Fremantle may soon be able to trade solar power on a blockchain based platform.

The project, brainchild of renewable energy-focused crypto startup Power Ledger, plans to include 40 participating Fremantle householders next June according to Ben Wyatt, WA Minister for Finance, Energy and Aboriginal Affairs.

Once the trial is underway next year, householders can set a price at which they are willing to purchase and sell solar power for and finally carry out their transactions on a blockchain-enabled platform. Minister Wyatt explained, suggesting these households could well be the first in the world to sell their rooftop generated power back to the grid in this way:

“The trial represents an innovative solution to virtual energy trading that may have implications for energy utilities working to balance energy supply and demand all over the world.”

The trial has been enabled through a RENeW Nexus Project which has been exploring how DLT can integrate distributed energy, including water systems infrastructure in future city planning schemes. Power Ledger is already on this road after embarking on a similar project in the US  with energy supplier American PowerNet.

Aussie Crypto Startup Power Ledger Brings P2P Energy Trading to Largest US Market https://t.co/OiVpHq5eON

— CCN (@CryptoCoinsNews) November 18, 2018

The US project enabled the solar power generated on the rooftops and carports at the headquarters of American PowerNet to be distributed to the surrounding businesses using Power Ledger’s xGrid platform. American PowerNet’s president, Scott Helm explained:

“Rather than just dump our excess solar power on to the grid, we’re thrilled we can now provide clean, sustainable power to our neighbors.”

Power Ledger has been making a name for themselves in technological innovation recently following their success in winning the 2018 edition of Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) sponsored by billionaire founder of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson. Their winning spot resulted in the startup going on to receive financial endorsements totaling millions of dollars.

Fremantle’s nearest city, West Australian capital Perth, has also made the crypto news this week after announcing the opening of its first blockchain centre, designed to become a  supportive business environment to encourage young start-ups to stay in the region, rather than moving overseas.

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Asia and Australia Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 30 November – 6 December 2018

Asia

Asia and Australia

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here, we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country.

China

Chinese Regulator Declares Security Token Offerings Illegal: Chinese authority Beijing Municipal Bureau of Finance has declared Security Token Offerings (STOs) illegal in its jurisdiction. The move came during a wealth management forum organized by the bureau.

Huo Xuewen, chief of the Beijing Municipal Bureau said:

“I will issue a risk warning to those who promote and issue STO tokens in Beijing. My advice is to only engage in such offerings when the government has legalized them,”

ICOs have been declared illegal by the Chinese government but they have so far been silent on STOs. With the latest move, at least within the jurisdiction of the Chinese capital, STOs are now illegal.

Japan

Police Investigating Increasingly Suspicious Cryptocurrency Activities: Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) has announced that there seems to be a sharp increase in suspicious cryptocurrency transactions in the country between January and October of this year.

According to the police report, 5944 cases on cryptocurrency exchanges were recorded that could be tied to tax evasion or money laundering. The figure is an 8-fold increase from the same period in 2017. It is yet to be seen what the government may decide to do with them.

Government Implementing ICO Regulations to Protect Investors: The top financial watchdog of the country Financial Services Agency (FSA) has announced a new set of regulations for ICOs in the country to help protect the funds of investors according to local news outlet Jiji Press.

The new regulations will force companies and organizations willing to undergo ICOs to register with the Financial Services Agency (FSA). Further regulations on exchanges, payment services, and financial instruments are also being implemented.

The government is also working on cutting down tax evasion figures in the industry. The National Tax Agency of Japan (NTA) is in the process of developing a dedicated tax auditing system for the cryptocurrency sector that will seek data from cryptocurrency exchanges and other financial services platforms involved with cryptocurrencies.

A recent bill tabled in the country’s parliament will authorize the tax agency for this purpose.

South Korea

Government Considering Crypto and ICO Tax Laws: The South Korean government is working to tax cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) in the country according to the incoming Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki.

According to The Korea Times, the new top financial wizard of the government has submitted a written reply to the Korean National Assembly on this topic during his confirmation hearing. He said:

“A task force consisting of experts from relevant government agencies including the National Tax Service and the private sector will be formed to examine overseas examples and hammer out the taxation plan.”

While the new Minister is in favor of taxation regulations, he is calling for caution as there is no tried and tested way of doing it.

Malaysia

Central Bank Wants to Regulate Cryptocurrencies: The Securities Commission and Central Bank of Malaysia have released a joint statement containing an outline for regulation of digital assets and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) in the country.

The statement provided at least some clarification on where the government was headed regarding this matter after the popular Mahatir Mohammad formed government at the center following general elections.

Australia

Western Australia Gets First Crypto Center: Western Australia is looking more and more appealing to the cryptocurrency industry after the first blockchain center was inaugurated in Perth earlier this week.

While the area is well-known for the mining industry that contributes to more than 92% of the entire state’s exports, the cryptocurrency genre may become the goldmine of tomorrow as interest spikes in the sector.

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Western Australia Get First Blockchain Center as Perth Goes Crypto Crazy

Western Australia Get First Blockchain Center as Perth Goes Crypto Crazy

Western Australia is having to reinvent itself after being the hub of Australia’s massive gold mining industry for years, and blockchain and cryptocurrency are beckoning.

Mining in Western Australia, together with the petroleum industry in the state, accounted for 92% of the State’s and 41% of Australia’s income from total merchandise exports in 2015-16. The state hosted 111 principal mining projects and hundreds of smaller quarries and mines.

Over the past few years mining has taken a hit, but this is nothing new to West Australians who have lived in a boom-bust economy for years. Experts say it is on the brink of another mining boom with new projects and tens of thousands of jobs to be created in the next year. FMG, Rio Tinto and BHP are set to invest billions of dollars to recruiters struggling already to keep up with demand for workers.

New game in town

The state’s capital, Perth, on the banks of the meandering Swan River, has been both the beneficiary and the victim of the state’s boom-bust economic roller coaster, most recently affected by China’s own economy and its need for minerals. A new game in town which local business has taken to is the city’s Blockchain Center, a project created in order to push new technologies such as blockchain into business and public consciousnesses. Investors in Perth have been moving away from the state’s backbone traditional investments such as real estate and mining over the past 18 months towards developing technologies.

Australia itself is becoming a blockchain and cryptocurrency trendsetter, with the newly-elected government showing a great interest in leveraging blockchain into government department systems in a number of sectors. Crypto towns have appeared, and in some areas travelling without a Bitcoin payment facility could cause problems for the keen traveller as locals try to create bitcoin communities to boost tourism.

Perth Blockchain Center will allow startups to share resources and ideas with like-minded business personnel and entrepreneurs. Sam Lee is the brains behind the venture, which he hopes will encourage business to stay in the city by offering every resource that a blockchain startup might need. He points out:

“Whether it’s a retail investor or a developer interested in implementing the technology, a blockchain center as the knowledge hub has the access required to upskill the local ecosystem to ensure better outcomes through higher quality projects.”

Lee maintains that a problem for new startups in this field is frequently that such companies are unable to access capital, often driving them overseas for a more supportive business environment. The center plans to change this situation, encouraging these young start-ups to stay in town through its knowledgeable local support.

Also in Western Australia’s capital, Perth Mint announced earlier this year that it had plans to win back investors who lost funds at the end of 2017 by creating the Mint’s own cryptocurrency backed by gold. Perth Mint is Australia’s largest exporter of gold, with about USD 18 billion in revenue from exported metals. Richard Hayes, Director of the Perth Mint commented:

“…you see this massive influx of capital and funds into Bitcoin and its derivatives because people are looking for something other than traditional forms of investment… [our own crypto] would have all the beneficial aspects of a distributed networks, namely very fast transactions which will facilitate trade. However, it will be backed and supported by precious metals. So, there is a non-virtual aspect of it that will ensure its value.”

 

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Australian Regulator Gives Thumbs Up for CoinZoom’s Market Leap

Australian Regulator Gives Thumbs Up for CoinZoom's Market Leap

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has issued its latest cryptocurrency license, this time to US-based cryptocurrency exchange, CoinZoom.

Serving both Australian and international customers, Coinzoom can now operate within Australia and as a cryptocurrency exchange, accepting and exchanging fiat, digital assets, and any other cryptocurrency.  The platform will now over a “one-stop user experience to link their credit card, bank account, and cryptocurrency wallets”.

Australia is the most recent of the company’s Money Transmitter Licenses to be issued after Florida, Ohio, Washington, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, and Oregon. The company hopes that it will soon be able to trade all over the US and is now available for trading in over 35 states. Its Australian adventure is due to kickstart in Q1 2019 offering currencies including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, XRP and other top traded altcoins available on the platform, along with a fiat to crypto service.

Australia is continuing to maintain its cryptocurrency profile in the global arena, with the eastern state of Queensland largely leading the way. CoinZoom will be joining a number of already well-established cryptocurrency exchanges both in Queensland and the rest of the country with a couple of high profile blockchain-based coups already in the bag as the year draws to a close, such as the one created by Australia Post.

The postal service Down Under, Australia Post, is now enabling customers to easily access crypto exchanges through a new platform called Digital iD. Created by Australia’s postal service, the iD platform enables users to dispense with private documents such as drivers licenses and passports for initial verification, which often results in anything up to a ten-day wait for new users before they can access crypto exchange services.

 

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 23-29 November 2018

Asia

Asia and Australia

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest in cryptocurrency-related news, continent by continent and country by country.

China

Chinese Investors wants Government to Regulate Fintech Markets: President of a major Chinese financial investment company is of the opinion that China should regulate the fintech market since the uncontrolled check is leading to many subpar platforms being launched which would ultimately prove to be disastrous for the country’s industry.

Vince Zhang of Phoenix Finance was speaking on CNBC’s East Tech West when he made the suggestion. He was worried that the industry was at “a very big risk” without proper management and control. “A lot of companies are not [there] in terms of their business plan, in terms of their risk management process, in terms of their overall management… A lot of these corporate control mechanisms are not in place.”

South Korea

Government Announces Plans for Blockchain E-Voting System: The South Korean government has announced its plans to test blockchain technology for an e-voting system. The National Election Commission will oversee the trials with the help of the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT. The trials will be run by Seoul National University’s own Blockchain Society in conjunction with the Korea Internet and Security Agency.

Electronic voting using decentralized ledger technology such as blockchain is gathering interest and momentum in recent months.

Philippines

Manila Residents Pay in ETH for a Local Beach Cleanup: Manila residents have paid in ETH for cleaning up one of the dirtiest plastic-filled beaches in the city. The burgeoning population of the Philippines and lack of recycling culture has resulted in a lot of problems for the local beachgoers, so much that the public paid for a cleanup drive on the beach with ETH.

The cleanup was carried out by ConsenSys, a blockchain solution company founded by Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin. He said:

“In Manila, participants will be paid in ETH for spending a few hours cleaning up one of the most heavily polluted beaches in the world. Bounties Network and ConsenSys Impact are proving a new model where people fund causes directly without intermediaries.”

In the future, citizens will be able to use a Dapp to receive rewards in ETH for work like this.

Malaysia

Government to Release Crypto Regulation by Q1 2019: The Malaysian government is considering to release cryptocurrency regulations in the country by early 2019, according to a local news piece quoting the country’s finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

According to Lim:

“It is not that we wish to obstruct (cryptocurrency) as we are keeping an open mind. But it is still subject to existing laws.”

Malaysian cryptocurrency issuers will also now be required to get central bank approval before trading in the sector according to Eng.

Hong Kong

Port Operator Joins IBM Blockchain Shipping Platform: Second largest container port in Hong Kong has joined Maersk and IBM’s TradeLens blockchain shipping project. Modern Terminals, the said port was the latest to join the blockchain shipping project that has seen other partners join from around the world.

TradeLens is one of the most notable platforms launched in the blockchain shipping sector. It has more than 230 docks and 20 operators present around the world from Europe, North America to now Asia Pacific region including PSA Singapore, Port of Bilbao, PortConnect and Port of Philadelphia.

Australia

Aussies Relying Less on Cash: The Reserve Bank of Australia’s Governor has admitted that Aussies have dramatically reduced their reliance on cash thus making way for digital cash. Contactless payments now amount to as much as 60% of all electronic transactions in the continent.

According to Governor Philip Lowe:

“For some decades, people have been speculating that we might one day go cashless – that we would no longer be using banknotes for regular payments and that almost all payments would be electronic…”

While the RBA is skeptical about Bitcoin, the admission is seen as positive news by the Australian crypto community as the rising cashless transactions can become the gateway for future crypto adoption.

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 16-22 November 2018

Asia and Australia

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here, we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country.

China

Chinese Cryptocurrency Projects being Tested After Slump in Prices: Chinese cryptocurrency projects including big miners have been hit by the recent slump in prices of Bitcoin with some even halting operations for the time being.

With many of the projects no longer feasible for the operators, there are growing concerns regarding the future of the market, but unsurprisingly, many are standing firm at the moment.

Japan

Government to Regulate Cryptocurrency Wallet Providers: The Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) is expected to impose new regulations on cryptocurrency wallet providers according to an account of its latest meeting.

The agency has been actively trying to regulate the cryptocurrency industry and recently concluded its ninth study group meeting. The major topic of the recent meeting was wallet providers because FSA currently doesn’t impose any regulations on wallet providers. The agency decided to bring them under their jurisdiction because they manage money transfers and storage of digital currencies.

South Korea

New Project to Adopt Blockchain for Beef Supply: A new project in South Korea will see blockchain technology being used in the beef supply chain to create more transparency for consumers.

According to local Yonhap news, the project is being conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in partnership with the Ministry of Science and ICT. The pilot will be conducted in the North Jeolla Province by December and it will then be launched countrywide by January 2019 for slaughterhouses.

Government Looks to Blockchain for Smarter E-Government Initiative: The South Korean government is looking to Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) in its vision for a smarter e-government initiative. 

The Ministry of Interior and Safety (MOIS) announced that technologies like DLT, AI and IoT will be used to address particular challenges in realizing this dream.

Blockchain to Power New Micro-Grids in South Korea: South Korea’s largest power provider KEPCO has said that it is planning to launch microgrids in the country with blockchain technology at their backend along with other innovative solutions.

Kim Jong-gap, the president and CEO of KEPCO said that the future of microgrids lies in energy-efficient systems and increasing green outlook of the system. The end goal of the initiative is to supply stable power with increased efficiency to the customers.

North Korea

Government to Host First International Blockchain Summit in Pyongyang: The North Korean government has announced to hold the first cryptocurrency summit in the country according to a recent press release on the government website.

The conference will be held from 18-19 April 2019 and will host experts from around the world.

According to the website:

“International experts in the blockchain and crypto industry will gather for the first time in Pyongyang to share their knowledge and vision, establish connections and discuss business opportunities.”

It is yet unclear how many people have actually signed up for the event since North Korea is not regarded by many as a safe destination to travel.

India

First Crypto Bill Expected in December: India’s first crypto bill is expected in December according to sources within the Indian government. Cryptocurrency exchanges and trading are currently banned in the country following a tussle between the government and the exchange operators.

While it remains a contentious topic, the crypto community would be looking towards the new bill with hope.

Australia

Payment Company Allows Users to Pay Bills with Cryptocurrencies: IvyPay, a payment company in Australia has announced a new service that will allow the members of the public to pay bills with cryptocurrencies. 

IvyPay’s latest service will allow more cryptocurrency adoption in the country since the current use cases remain limited.

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“Bitcoin Babe’s” Journey out of the Dark into Light

Life for 24-year-old Australian crypto enthusiast Michaela Juric has turned itself around after escaping the darknet to become Australasia’s number one Bitcoin trader on Localbitcoins.

Six years ago, Juric, who now trades under the handle Bitcoin Babe, was struggling with depression and contemplating suicide. The darknet became a place where she spent her Bitcoin on illegal substances.

Today, she runs her Bitcoin trading business and has turned her use of Bitcoin into positives against all odds. Becoming Australia and New Zealand’s top local Bitcoins trader didn’t come without a large degree of hard work and application.  She proudly affirms:

“I originally started out day trading and after that, I moved to peer-to-peer trading. I’m the number one local trader on Bitcoins for Australia and New Zealand. Which is a pretty cool thing to be.”

Juric said it wasn’t easy getting to where she is today without any background in cryptocurrency and limited IT skills, but through cryptocurrency, she saw that she could become her own boss, which spurred her to develop her own platform as well as trade on Localbitcoins.

She likes to impress upon those thinking of embarking down a similar road, that cryptocurrency trading has no gender barriers and empowerment is simply down to the individual’s determination to get ahead and learn in the process. She says, “With Bitcoin and crypto, it’s always changing – whether it be the price or the rules or the regulations or the people. It’s evolving. It’s never a dull moment. I think that’s why I love it so much.”

Bitcoin Babe is on the right track as Beno Delo discovered for himself, the latter becoming the UK’s first crypto billionaire at the age of only 34. The difference is he got there in only four years due to the success of BitMex which he co-founded in 2014, estimated to now be worth USD 3.6 billion.

Delos secret, according to him: “It feels mad… I have just had my nose down in a start-up for the past four years. It has been non-stop. I was doing 18-hour days at one point. We have all had to make enormous sacrifices to build BitMex.”

This story has a certain irony as Belo’s role model when starting up was billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who famously referred to Bitcoin as “probably rat poison squared”.

 

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Australian Tax Regulator Issues Alert on Bitcoin ATM Fraud

Australia is experiencing its own measure of crypto-related fraud where scammers are demanding tax payments through Bitcoin ATMs. To that effect, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on 14 November 2018 published a warning to citizens advising them to be cautious of scammers posing as ATO officials.

Compared to previous years, a higher number of scammers are claiming to be associated with the ATO to defraud unsuspecting victims, according to ATO Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson, who asked Australians to be vigilant for tax scams. She also warned that the ATO will not ask for payments into ATM machines or via gift cards, prepaid cards or direct payments to bank accounts.

Concerns were also voiced by the Assistant Commissioner over the number of citizens sharing personal information – tax file numbers, bank account numbers and dates of birth – with tax scammers, stating that these could increase their susceptibility to fraudulent occurrences. The warning reported that around 6,000 taxpayers have fallen to phishing scams and almost USD 1 million to have been paid to scammers since 1 July 2018.

Payments through cryptocurrency have overtaken iTunes vouchers as the most common method of scam payment. In May, Scamwatch, an Australian consumer watchdog, revealed that Australians had lost around USD 2 million in scams involving cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings, with about USD 1.2 million lost in Bitcoin scams alone. This was due to the increased popularity of cryptocurrency in the last quarter of 2017 which led to a surge in fake ICOs.

Bitcoin ATMs allow customers to exchange cash for the cryptocurrency, with some also allowing customers to sell the cryptocurrency for cash. However, just last month, the headlines were abuzz with news of fraud after scammers defrauded four Australian Immigrants of more than AUD 50,000 (USD 35,000), by convincing them to deposit money into a Bitcoin ATM or alternatively be arrested for nonexistent debts.

Anderson advised citizens to be wary of scammers demanding payments for debts they aren’t aware they owed, as scammers are growing increasingly sophisticated and exploiting vulnerable people, often using aggressive tactics to swindle them out of their money or personal information.

 

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Australian Science Agency Praises “Smart Money” Blockchain Trial Success

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has completed a blockchain trial with one of Australia’s big four banks, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The trial, announced last month, tested CSIRO’s blockchain-powered “smart money” with the help of carers and participants within Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS was initiated by the Australian government for citizens with disabilities, including intellectual, physical, sensory and psycho-social. It creates a managed market for disability services in Australia.

The trial revealed that the technology could increase patients’ choices and their levels of control over their support. Also, it was seen to help eliminate the need for unnecessary paperwork and reduced the risk of both fraud and financial calculation errors resulting in misspending. Ten participants and carers took part in the trials.

CSIRO’s Data61 principal software and computational systems researcher, Dr Mark Staples, claimed that the trial was insightful in giving researchers a greater understanding of both the pitfalls and some of the benefits of integrating smart money payments into the NDIS system. He added:

“This automation and flexibility could reduce friction and enable greater innovation in many payment environments and unlock network-effect benefits… directly connecting citizens to public policy programs, empowering people to optimize their spending through things like smart savings plans and smart diets, and reducing costs for businesses, including through the potential for self-taxing transactions.”

Commonwealth Bank’s head of government and ADIs, Julie Hunter, saw wide applications for the new technology in all sectors including the non-profit environment.

Australia’s previous prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had asked the country’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to research blockchain earlier this year. Principally, he asked for a focus on how the technology could be used to improve government services, including welfare payments. The Australian government granted the agency a budget of AUD 700,000 (USD 530,000) to carry out an investigation into DLT.

The move is one of many focused on how the government can best leverage blockchain’s advantages, including looking into how the technology can be used for making social security welfare payments to citizens. This latest CSIRO/Commonwealth Bank collaboration appears to be in line with the government’s current direction regarding implementing DLT into public services and other programs.

The new prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, plans to utilize blockchain technology to bring “much tougher competition” to the country’s big banks and dominant industries. He argued that the Australian banking system will be able to utilize DLT to help to transform areas of consumer data rights, open banking reforms, and new legislation.

 

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Coinjar Sees Bright Future for Stablecoins

The CEO of Australian Bitcoin Exchange Coinjar maintains that stablecoins are due to become a major investor attraction.

Asher Tan has left Melbourne-based Coinjar co-founder Ryan Zhou in charge of Australian operations and taken up residence in London’s Canary Wharf. He clearly has a good view of London’s crypto horizon from his 39th-floor workspace on the banks of the Thames. He likes what he sees.

The interesting thing right now, what’s on everyone’s lips, is what you call a stablecoin. A stablecoin is a coin pegged to a currency, usually the US dollar. It’s a craze right now,” Tan says. “It helps you transfer money around the crypto ecosystem at a stable rate. But there’s a whole lot of applications or use-cases that could come out of it.”

Stablecoins are seen by some as a safe hedge against the volatility of conventional cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. Currently, they are underutilized apart from traders using them to guard their positions during bear markets. The most topical of these were introduced after the Winklevoss twins were knocked back by the SEC after their last ETF submission was turned down, only to hit the market with the stablecoin Gemini. The brothers also have their eyes firmly set on the London market as their next potential stablecoin project.

Japanese banks favor a stablecoin method which involves simply storing an equivalent amount of dollars and offering a tokenized version of that amount. Tan suggests that until now, the custody model has certainly been easier than more complex decentralized ways of maintaining a peg but tech startups are now looking for a better more effective and innovative model.

“How do you keep a peg? These are things that usually only a central bank would have thought about five years ago, and now you’ve got tech start-ups looking at economics, and how can you peg a currency to a token. It’s fascinating,” says Tan.

Tan sees dollar digitalization by exchanges at some point in the future as a faites accompli and he is now considering how stablecoins would fit into his future plans for Coinjar, arguing that Europe is the ideal base from which to operate:

“If you go regional in Asia there’s that fragmentation – all the different regulators, the cross-border challenge. Europe is a well-regulated environment, like Australia… We don’t want to create a product and then find out that the regulator is taking an unfriendly approach.”

 

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